What if acquiring wrinkles, losing your strength, and developing age-related conditions were not inevitable? According to the latest developments in the field of longevity, this may be the case. Aging is a complex process that will begin and progress at some point in your life. But research suggests you can turn back your biological age clock—how old you are internally—and by preventing and in some cases even reversing aging processes by implementing simple yet powerful lifestyle choices.
What is the aging process?
Aging is the gradual decline in the body’s function over time.  It leads to several physiological changes over our lifespan. Some of these changes are benign, like gray hair and wrinkles, while others can have a significant impact on our health and longevity, like reduced mobility and increased disease risk. Scientists have speculated for years about the exact mechanisms behind the aging process. Some have suggested that aging is a built-in part of biology and that cells are programmed to deteriorate over time. [2-4] Other theories propose that aging is not necessarily inherent, but rather is an accumulation of damage caused by environmental factors.
As research has evolved, aging experts now believe that the aging process is a combination of the two. [2,3] In other words, aging is a complex interaction between genetic and lifestyle factors. 
Can you reverse aging naturally?
Aging, to some extent, is inevitable—it is a natural process that we cannot completely stop. But the good news is that we do have control over how quickly and to what degree that process unfolds. And if you are experiencing some signs of aging, some lifestyle habits may be able to improve (i.e reverse) those signs. While genetics and biology play an important role in aging, research reveals that people can extend their healthspan by mitigating the environmental and lifestyle factors that influence aging. 
Six ways to counter the signs of aging and live longer
1. Prioritize sleep
Sleep is a critical process for repairing cellular damage, which means it plays a key role in combating aging. The benefits of sleep go beyond helping people feel rested and energized. Sleep promotes muscle repair and growth, helps the brain process new information, strengthens the immune system, and influences markers of metabolic health (like fasting blood glucose and hemoglobin A1c). [6-9]
In addition, numerous studies have reported an association between sleep and longevity. In a meta-analysis of 16 prospective cohort studies with a combined 1.3 million participants, researchers found that less than six hours of sleep per day was associated with a 12% percent greater risk of death.  Similarly, another meta-analysis including 67 studies of over 3.5 million participants reported that both short and long sleep durations were associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality and cardiovascular disease . To optimize sleep and keep aging at bay, it is recommended that adults aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night. 
2. Maintain healthy sex hormone levels
Hormones are chemical messengers that coordinate many different functions and processes throughout the body, so optimal hormone levels are critical for healthy aging in both males and females. For example, research shows that testosterone, the main male sex hormone, is integral to muscle growth, sexual and cognitive function, energy levels, and healthy aging in males.  Males can promote optimal testosterone levels with a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and regular physical activity. [14-18]
For females, scientists have identified dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate, or DHEAS, as an essential precursor of important sex hormones and biomarker for women’s health. This compound naturally declines with age and lower levels of DHEAS are associated with a higher risk of conditions like cardiovascular disease, unstable blood sugar levels, difficulty controlling weight, and fatigue. [19,20] Females can attain optimal DHEAS levels with lifestyle choices like regular moderate aerobic activity (like walking, jogging, or hiking), choosing lean proteins over red and processed meats, and reducing stress levels. [21-23]
3. Incorporate strength training to maintain muscle mass
Age-related muscle loss, also known as sarcopenia, is a natural part of aging. However, the amount of muscle lost can be significantly reduced and even reversed to an extent with strength training exercises. Maintaining muscle mass is important as it directly impacts the ability to move independently and the risk of falling, disability, and overall frailty.  But there’s more—muscle mass and strength training are also linked to improvements in blood glucose levels, reduction in chronic inflammation, and better brain health. [25-27] All of these health effects then influence how quickly a person ages, as evidenced by a meta-analysis of over 370,000 participants, which found that resistance training was associated with a 21% lower risk of all-cause mortality. 
4. Eat healthfully for metabolic and heart health
Eating healthfully is a powerful way to promote good health. Diets rich in plant foods contain nutrients and compounds that fight inflammation, which is a major cause of cell damage and aging. These nutrient-dense foods also improve many blood biomarkers correlated with aging.
In a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies, plant-based vegan and vegetarian diets were associated with reduced levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and blood glucose.  In contrast, research suggests higher intakes of red and processed meats might speed up the aging process. One study found that a higher ratio of animal to plant protein and an overall higher meat intake were both associated with an increased risk of mortality.  Reducing meat intake and replacing it with more plant-based proteins has been shown to reduce many biomarkers related to aging, including cholesterol, triglycerides, and glucose. [31-32]
5. Play brain games
Aging can result in cognitive decline and an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases. But it is important to keep the brain sharp, as research shows the risk of death increases as cognition declines.  Luckily, people may be able to improve cognition and decrease the risk of neurodegenerative diseases by regularly engaging in activities that challenge memory and cognitive processing. In one randomized control trial, researchers found that both young and elderly adults who played a brain game every day for four weeks displayed significant improvements in executive functions, working memory, and processing speed.  To keep your brain—and consequently the rest of your body young—try challenging it with games like Sudoku or varying your regular routines and tasks.
6. Wear sunscreen to protect against signs of premature skin aging
The sun is another environmental factor that can speed up aging. Harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause skin damage, leading to many tell-tale signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles, dark spots, and uneven skin tone. Excessive UV radiation is also a known contributor to skin cancer.  Experts believe that up to 80% of skin aging may be due to UV exposure. 
Fortunately, people can protect themselves from this UV damage with sunscreen. In one randomized controlled trial, researchers investigated the effects of sunscreen use on signs of skin aging over four and a half years.  They found that those adults who used the broad-spectrum sunscreen daily showed no detectable increase in skin aging. Experts recommend sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to keep skin looking young. 
Can supplements reverse or slow aging?
The link between diet and aging is evident, so many scientists are now investigating whether the health-promoting vitamins, minerals, or bioactive compounds found in foods or produced by the body can be isolated into a supplement for maximum age-reversing benefits. There is evidence that some supplements may play a role in lowering cholesterol, reducing blood pressure, regulating oxidative stress, and alleviating joint pain—all health parameters that can impact aging. However, research is still evolving on the role supplements play in aging-specific processes.
Find out your biological age to see how old you are internally
Biological age refers to a calculation of the body’s internal age and reflects how efficiently the body is functioning. InsideTracker’s biological age test, InnerAge 2.0 uses a blood test analysis to measure the biomarkers most associated with aging. Based on what markers are adding to your biological age and your current lifestyle habits, you get personalized recommendations, including specific foods to eat (and how often to eat them), how much and what types of activity to participate in, how to improve your sleep, and more. Regular blood testing allows you to see how your habits are adding to or subtracting from your biological age.
Because while you can’t completely reverse aging processes, you can age backward—biologically speaking.
- Aging is a complex interaction between genetic and lifestyle factors.
- Aging can’t be entirely halted, but it can be slowed.
- Sleep well, maintaining optimal sex hormone levels, eating a diet rich in plants, and staying physically active all promote healthy aging.
- The majority of skin aging results from UV damage and can be prevented with the routine use of sunscreen.